Apartment Fire Safety
Fire Inspection Tips
Fire Inspection Tips for Apartment Managers and Owners
This document is designed as a general fire prevention guide for apartment managers and owners. It covers areas of the Oregon Uniform Fire Code, statutes and state building code that apply to apartments. Some local areas may have additional requirements for apartments. Contact your local fire department for more information.
Fire Alarm and Sprinkler Systems
Apartment managers and/or owners are responsible for maintaining, testing and arranging for inspection of fire alarm and sprinkler systems. Manufacturer’s instructions should be used as a guideline for testing and maintenance. Apartment managers and/or owners are also responsible for keeping records of testing, maintenance and inspection of fire alarm and sprinkler systems. Records should be kept readily accessible.
Single Station Smoke Alarms
Effective January 1, 2002, all ionization smoke alarms must have a “hush feature” which allows the occupant to silence it for a period of not more than 15 minutes. All solely battery powered ionization smoke alarms must have a ten-year battery. If the ionization alarms are 110 v (hard-wired) and include a battery back-up feature, they are not required to have a ten-year battery. Photoelectric smoke alarms do not need to meet these requirements. Apartments are required to have smoke alarms as per the building code at the time of construction. However, there are minimum requirements for all buildings. The minimum requirements are that smoke alarms must be installed outside the sleeping area, such as in a hallway. If the apartment has more than one level, a smoke alarm must be installed on each level. The Office of State Fire Marshal recommends adding smoke alarms in each bedroom for additional protection. A smoke alarm should not be installed in kitchens, bathroom, garages or unheated areas because moisture, frost, cooking vapors and exhaust fumes could cause the unit to sound a false alarm. Smoke and deadly gases are hot, so they rise toward the ceiling. Smoke alarms should be placed on the ceiling at least four inches from the nearest wall or high on a wall, four to 12 inches from the ceiling. Contact your local fire department for more specific information. The manager and tenant upon initial occupancy must test smoke alarms. After the initial testing, it is up to the tenant to maintain the alarm(s).
Exit doors should be accessible at all times. Corridors and other escape routes need to be kept clear. Nothing should be stored in exit ways or under stairs.
Portable Fire Extinguishers
Portable fire extinguishers, when required, shall be installed in common areas and in plain view, in an accessible spot near escape routes. Travel distance to extinguishers shall be no more than 75 feet. Install extinguishers so that the top is no more than five feet above the floor. They shall be easy to reach and remove, and placed where they will not be damaged. Fire extinguishers need to be inspected regularly and periodically hydrostatically tested according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Extension cords shall not be used as permanent wiring. They should only be used with portable appliances and plugged directly into an approved receptacle, power tap or multi-plug adapter. All extension cords need to be in good condition without splices, deterioration or damage. They should be grounded when servicing grounded appliances. Extension cords should not be affixed to structures, extend through walls, ceilings, and floors or under doors or floor coverings. They should not be exposed to environmental or physical damage.
Laundry rooms need to be clean. Lint traps and vents should be cleaned regularly to prevent the accumulation of lint.
Switchboards and Panelboards
Make sure there is clear access to switchboards and panelboards; 30 inches of clearance is required.
Attics and boiler rooms shall not be used to store combustible items. Encourage all residents to have a fire escape plan and to practice it regularly. A good escape plan will list two ways out, show a meeting place and list emergency phone numbers.
Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal
A Division of Oregon State Police
4760 Portland Road NE
Salem, Oregon 97305